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Ocean Blueprint for 21st Century[1]

Ocean Blueprint for 21st Century[1]

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Published by busybusybusy
describes how to save the oceans
describes how to save the oceans

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Published by: busybusybusy on Oct 27, 2010
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There are two distinct types of data sought by users. Scientists are generally interested in
calibrated, long-term time series of basic data that can be used to study topics such as
atmospheric composition, ecosystem change, carbon cycles in the environment, the
human dimensions of climate change, and the global water cycle. At the other end of the
spectrum, the general public is most often interested in outcomes based on data analysis,
such as forecasts and models, and do not wish to see the original data. Users seeking
information products include commercial users, policy makers, and educators who wish
to develop curricula and class materials.

Information Products and Forecasts

Compared to a few decades ago, an impressive array of data and information products for
forecasting ocean and coastal conditions is now available from a wide range of sources. A
mechanism is now needed to bring these data together, including the enormous amounts
of information that will be generated by the national IOOS and the national monitoring
network, and use them to generate and disseminate products beneficial to large and
diverse audiences.

At the national level, civilian operational ocean products and forecasts are produced
mainly by NOAA’s National Weather Service and National Ocean Service. The National
Weather Service routinely issues marine and coastal information and forecasts related to
meteorological conditions and issues marine warnings, forecasts, and guidance for mar-
itime users. The National Ocean Service’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products
and Services also collects and distributes oceanographic observations and predictions
related to water levels, tides, and currents.
Military ocean informational products are produced mainly by two offices. The Fleet
Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center provides weather and oceanographic
products, data, and services to the operating and support forces of the Department of
Defense. The Naval Oceanographic Office located at the Stennis Space Center in
Mississippi is the hub of oceanographic data collection, archiving, fusion, modeling, and
distribution. It supplies global oceanographic products and generates strategic, opera-
tional, and tactical oceanographic and geospatial products to guarantee safe navigation
and weapon/sensor performance.
While each of these offices possesses unique missions, as well as resources, infrastruc-
ture, and data, a partnership between them could lead to a new generation of ocean and
coastal information and forecasts. A national ocean and coastal information management
and communications partnership that builds on the Navy’s model for operational oceanog-
raphy would take advantage of the strengths of both agencies, reduce duplication, and
more effectively meet the nation’s information needs. This partnership would also allow
for the prompt incorporation of classified military data into information products, without
publicly releasing the raw data. Working together, NOAA and the Navy can rapidly
advance U.S. coastal and ocean analyses and forecasting capabilities by drawing on the
distinct, yet complementary capabilities of each organization and using all available physi-
cal, biological, chemical, and socioeconomic data.
Private-sector and academic involvement in creating ocean analyses and forecast
products has matured over the last thirty years through highly successful partnerships.


One of the major

challenges in infor-

mation technology is

not just producing

the science and giving

it to policy-makers,

but producing the

science and giving it

to citizensso they

can be adequately

informed about the

coastal and marine


—Dr. Michael Orbach,

Director, Duke University
Marine Laboratory,
testimony to the
January 2002.


Interactions between private companies, the academic community and the NOAA-Navy
partnership could produce a wide range of general and tailored forecast and warning
products. An interface between national forecasters at the federal level, the regional ocean
information programs, and the Regional Associations of the national IOOS would also
help identify ocean and coastal information products of particular value at the regional
and local levels.

Recommendation 28–2

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Navy should estab-

lish an ocean and coastal information management and communications partnership to gener-

ate information products relevant to national, regional, state, and local operational needs.

The NOAA-Navy partnership should:
•prioritize products and forecasts based on input from regional ocean information
programs, Ocean.IT, Ocean.US, the Regional Associations of the IOOS, and other federal,

regional, state, and local users.
•base products and forecasts on all available data sources.
•support the generation of new models and forecasts in collaboration with Ocean.IT,
academia, and the private sector.

NOAA will need to develop a variety of dissemination techniques and educate poten-
tial users about information access and applications to ensure that the products produced
in cooperation with the Navy fulfill their potential.

Raw Data

Although many paths exist to access data, there is currently no focal point where users
can go to gain access to all available ocean data and information. As a result, the process
can be tedious, and the risk of missing key databases high. Interdisciplinary users face even
greater challenges when attempting to integrate data sets from different centers. The varied
data standards, formats, and metadata that have evolved over time make data exchange
complex and unwieldy. Other problems arise when important data sets are kept by individ-
ual scientists or institutions, rather than being integrated into national databases.
One area of critical concern, particularly for coastal resource managers, is the integra-
tion of coastal data, including maps, charts, and living and nonliving resource assessments.
The user community is frustrated by the difficulties in accessing coastal geospatial data.
Serious concerns continue regarding the timeliness, accuracy, and descriptions associated
with coastal data, and the difficulties of integrating data sets from various sources. Coastal
managers and researchers still lack a seamless bathymetric/topographic base map and
database for the U.S. coast—an essential underpinning for improved understanding of the
processes that occur across the land-sea interface. (The integration of maps and charts is
also discussed in Chapter 25.)
Several innovative and highly promising interagency efforts to increase data accessi-
bility are underway. The National Virtual Ocean Data System project is a primary example.
Funded by the National Ocean Partnership Program, it facilitates seamless access to
oceanographic data and data products via the Internet, regardless of data type, location of
the storage site, the format in which the data are stored, or the user’s visualization tools
and level of expertise. The National Virtual Ocean Data System uses OPeNDAP technol-
ogy that provides machine-to-machine interoperability within a highly distributed envi-
ronment of heterogeneous data sets. This is similar to other successful Internet-based file
sharing systems that allow users to access data (typically music files) that reside on
another individual’s computer. The Ocean.US data management plan envisions that the
National Virtual Ocean Data System will be implemented to allow access to IOOS data.


Recommendation 28–3

Ocean.IT should work with developers of the National Virtual Ocean Data System and other

innovative data management systems to implement a federally-supported system for access-

ing ocean and coastal data both within and outside the national data centers.

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